On June 1, 2007, Phillip Wellman was managing the AA Mississippi Braves, when he got into an argument with an umpire. His furious antics ended up on ESPN and then YouTube, making it hard for him to find a job in baseball when he lost his position in Mississippi a few years later.
“There are only 30 jobs at AA, 30 at AAA, they’re hard to come by,” he said. “Thirty-years in baseball, I woke up on a November day with no job and no insurance.”
Out of a job and with a wife, two children, and a grandchild, and with no job offers from other baseball teams, Wellman needed a change. He says an office job opened at Covenant Transport Inc., in Chattanooga, Tenn., as a fleet manager overseeing 80 drivers. While it was a shift from managing ball players, Covenant’s management saw potential in the skills Wellman used to manage different types of people on the field.
Wellman ended up being the top fleet manager at the time, bringing a coach’s mentality to Covenant Wellman worked at Covenant for a year and likely would have stayed, but the San Diego Padres called asking Wellman to manage the San Antonio Missions, the team’s AA farm team.
“That year, I wouldn’t trade for anything. Because of that year, life has made a lot more sense,” he said. “I realized that the guy who is sitting in the stands with his family at the park and spends a hundred dollars for the entertainment works hard for his money, and I’ll never take that for granted because I was that guy for a year. Deep down, it made me appreciate what I have. I’m out here on a field with green grass, red dirt, and blue skies. I am grateful.”
Even though he’s been gone from Covenant for five years, Wellman stays in contact with the drivers and he could see a return to trucking, once his baseball career winds down.
“There are friends at Covenant I still stay in touch with,” Wellman said. One driver even spends the Christmas holidays with Wellman and his family.
“I never set an alarm in baseball. I was getting up at 6:20 to be at work at 8 a.m. I came to really respect the drivers for what they do.”
According to Wellman, he’d like to put the infamy of his appearance on ESPN behind him. “I’d like to think I’ve accomplished a lot more in baseball than being a YouTube video hit,” he says.
While Wellman says it’s not his proudest moment in the game, he’s very proud of his time in the trucking industry and has nothing but respect for the truckers out there “hustling and working hard.”